For the past two seasons, Adam Reed’s Archer has been one of the wildest and funniest shows on television as it follows the exploits of agent Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin, whose voice and delivery have always struck me funny ever since I first heard it in Dr. Katz) of International Secret Intelligence Service and his co-workers. The second season ended with the death of his fiancée, KGB agent Katya Kasanova, at the hands of his arch-nemesis Barry (Dave Willis), leading Sterling to run off for parts unknown.
The third season begins early in 2012, but a three-episode “Special Assignment” entitled “Heart of Archness” airs this month to tide fans over. As Part I opens, Archer has been missing for three months to the lone consternation of ISIS head/Sterling’s mother Malory (Jessica Walter). Everyone else in the office doesn’t mind not having to deal with his obnoxious personality. Since none of her agents can find Sterling, Malory hires adventurer/bounty hunter Rip Riley (Patrick Wharburton who delivers a funny performance that will hopefully turn this guest spot into a recurring role) to track him down. Riley finds a bearded Sterling on a tropical island but the trouble is Sterling doesn’t want to go home. They battle back and forth, outwitting each other in outlandish ways that could only be done in animation. Pirates capture them but Sterling ends up becoming their king.
Part II reveals the pirates quickly losing their patience as King Sterling doesn’t provide as well as the previous king because he doesn’t know the rules of pirating, in part because he misused his pirate’s handbook upon receipt. Noah (David Cross, continuing Reed’s use of Arrested Development alumni) is an archaeology doctoral candidate (a wasted endeavor according to Sterling and Rip), who attempts to help Sterling deal with the pirates, but Sterling just ignores him because he’s too interested in drinking, bedding native girls, and the lacrosse league he started on the island. A native nicknamed Bucky (James Hong) leads a mutiny against Sterling.
Back at ISIS, agents Lana (Aisha Tyler) and Ray (Adam Reed) go to rescue Sterling yet quickly find themselves in the same cell. Comptroller Cyril (Chris Parnell) is concerned about the return of Sterling because the company is finally turning a profit and he attempts to hide the money as drunken human resources director Pam (Amber Nash) walks in on him.
In Part III, Bucky seeks a ransom for Sterling’s return while the gang works to escape from the pirates’ clutches. No one hopes they succeed more than Cyril who doesn’t remember where he hid ISIS’ money because he drank so much with Pam that they both blacked out. Although the eventual outcome is obvious, one of the main characters is badly injured, so it will be curious if the injuries will carry through into the remainder of the series or if through the magic of cartoons the person will be no worse for wear.
All three parts of “Heart of Archness” deliver the same ridiculous level of outrageous things characters say and do that Archer fans enjoy laughing at and/or being shocked by. The action is intense, physical, and frequently bloody, though characters are more put off by Pam’s large naked body than any violence that occurs. Archer is not a series for those with delicate or politically correct sensibilities. The next episode can’t come soon enough.
“Heart of Archness” – Part III airs September 29, 10:30PM e/p